Into the void
Lenore Taylor thinks, and wants you to think, that you can fill a void with more void.
The problem is [Labor] does not yet know exactly what it is fighting for. And it is not entirely in control of its own battle plan.
As Labor MPs work those things out, Tony Abbott is filling the void with his analysis of what Labor intends, a tactic it could surely have anticipated.
His analysis of what Labor intends is bullshit: half-baked economic projections (whose authors don't endorse the uses to which he puts their work), scaremongering, bullshit, sheer disrespect for this country and its people, and an increasingly reciprocated scorn for those who are not already rusted-on supporters - and on top of all that, more bullshit. Abbott fills the void of carbon policy in the same way that maggots can give a carcass the impression of simmering, twitching vitality.
A government is never in control of their own battle plan. No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
There are ways in which Labor could conceivably bridge the gulf between the Greens' high ambition for a carbon pricing scheme and the high anxiety about its impact on industry and households.
It is hard to imagine right now, with industry - especially manufacturers that are struggling with the high dollar - staking out a tough negotiating position early ...
Dudes, when a government is in a tight spot a "tough negotiating position" won't really cut it. Labor are not going to cave in to the Greens - especially after they kick their arses in the third successive election (Fed, Vics, and NSW later this month) - so chances are you will cop whatever they come out with.
If Abbott was doing something to allay those fears, providing calm and measured leadership with sound policies widely regarded as sensible - then he'd be streets ahead of where he is. He's a fools-rush-in kinda guy, and journos fancy themselves as trample-anyone-to-get-the-story activists, so they deserve each other even though we deserve better from each.
Here's the thing though: the Coalition vote is up and while Gillard and her party have taken a hiding, people just don't warm to Abbott. They (We?) never warmed to him, after all this time. Only journalists and other boofheads like the guy.
But the Greens have been talking about "a range of measures" to start reducing Australia's emissions.
You bet they are: petty little measures, like public transport run on recycled vegetable oil and crap like that. Imagine Sarah Hanson-Young holding a press conference on a green-powered bus that has broken down on Sydney's Anzac Bridge at peak hour, making the case for the common good. Labor will gently bat away plans like that and in so doing look "balanced", reasonable managers of the common weal holding off the maddies. By the time it's all over Labor will have outfoxed the Greens again, and calmly put in place a policy of some sort that exhausts all attempts at Liberal hype.
The danger is that while they are talking, Abbott will have convinced voters that any carbon pricing scheme is bad.
With what? How, exactly? What terrible, ignorant piffle this is.
After the News Ltd polls in the electorates of Lyne and New England painting Oakeshott and Windsor at odds with their voters, I would love to see the voters of Warringah similarly polled. Folks of Manly, Mosman, Curl Curl and Belrose are generally not the stiff-backed reactionaries you might imagine. Ask them what they think about some sort of carbon abatement strategy. Ask them what they think of no mining tax at all, or Muslim-baiting, or whether anthropogenic climate change is "crap". Sure, many will agree 100% - they keep voting for him - but you might be surprised.
If dweebs like Peter Macdonald and David Bell can carve out a political career in that area, imagine what real grass-roots activism can do in a community that tends to be well-heeled but not snooty, which prides itself on living among beautiful bushland and magnificent shorelines.
If you started now, you'd get someone with a bit of go who lived locally (and to live in that area, you need all the go you can muster to pay the mortgage) who could take a few positions and attract some attention, working at the strong community level well below the radar of the mainstream media, enough to give Abbott and his ever-decreasing party membership a real fright in 2013. NSW Labor has no chance and must be excluded from local politics altogether. People like Lenore Taylor would be in slack-jawed amazement at the very idea of a representative who represented Warringah better and more effectively than the highly unusual Tony Abbott appears to do, at the very idea that an electorate may not perceive its political needs as people like her have instructed them.
It's effete to say that Australians produce a tiny proportion of the world's carbon problems and hence can only offer a tiny solution to said problems. The same might be said of Australia's mighty contributions to the political questions of the twentieth century which spiralled into war. Had Australia opted out of the Second World War, fascism and militarism would have imploded and communism would have overextended itself; but our contribution still mattered and we earned a moral authority on which this country still trades. The stalemates in Korea, Malaysia and Afghanistan happened despite Australians' efforts and not because of them. We must join a cause that is leaving us behind, and stand against opponents who would make us poor indeed.
Something like that, Lenore Taylor, would be filling the void rather than exacerbating it.